All players in gaming activities like sports betting, lottery and slot machines have to be registered and monitored, according to the chief executive officer of National Gaming Board Uganda (NGBU).
Addressing the media in Kampala, Edgar Agaba, a Central Monitoring System (CMS) is being put in place for registration and identification of all players in order to weed out, among other things, underage players and shady characters.
Agaba says the CMS, linked with the databases of National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) will capture biometric and personal information as well as nationality of the players.
Agaba says the CMS is also intended to combat money laundering, that is why it will also be linked with the Financial Intelligence Authority. He said it will also capture Bank of Uganda’s concern about betting in foreign currencies like the dollar.
According to Agaba, the development of the functional and technical specifications of the CMS is complete and the procurement process has been initiated, ending by December 2018.
Agaba says establishment of the CMS, in addition to compliance and enforcement actions, is expected to increase revenue considerably, since betting is now increasingly becoming electronic.
He outlines advantages of implementing a central monitoring system as monitoring and protection of minors and vulnerable groups, enhanced operator compliance, streamlined industry growth and enhanced reporting.
Other advantages, according to Agaba, are ensuring best practices, elimination of fraud, technological transformation of the sector, capturing information on location and operations and increasing revenue streams.
Figures dangled by Agaba shows that in 2016/17 financial year revenues from gaming were 37 billion shillings. He says the projection for 2017/18 is 42 billion shillings, for 2018/19 is 45 billion shillings and for 2019/20 is 50 billion shillings.
Agaba says gaming is now a multi-billion-shilling industry of hundreds of billions of shillings, adding that electronic monitoring will help get the right value of the industry.
He says the gaming board has received and reviewed a total of 57 applications for licenses, 15 of which were new applicants while 42 were for renewal. Only 37 were approved and issued with licenses.
In terms of employment, Agaba says each gaming shop employs an average of five people, making it a viable option for jobs.
Kampala metropolitan area alone has at least 736 gaming premises, and if each employs five people then the gaming shops should be employing nearly 3,700 people. Nationally, the figure is higher.
Agaba also reported that of the 736 gaming premises in greater Kampala inspected, only 583 compliant, and have been approved for licensing.
He says in the period up to July 1st 2017, the board closed 99 illegal or non-compliant premises and confiscated 557 illegal slot machines and 29 unlicensed gaming devices.
All municipalities, says Agaba, have also been visited with the next being the town councils. Gaming activities tend to in urban centres.
Agaba says efforts to strengthen and transform the gaming industry include, among others, development of operational manuals, legal and policy reviews, certification and testing of gaming equipment, registration of gaming equipment, setting standards for gaming and gaming equipment.
Gaming, popularly known as betting, is now the main stay of many men, particularly the youth, many of whom literally spend their time in the shops.
Agaba says they are going to sensitize the public to look at betting not as a full-time income generating activity but rather something one can do alongside other productive ventures.